Tag Archives: animal stories

The Rainbow Fish

Author/Illustrator: Marcus Pfisterthe-rainbow-fish

Translator: J. Alison James

My rating: 4.5 of 5

The Rainbow Fish is very beautiful, and he knows it too. But he’s not about to share any of his beautiful scales. And he wonders why he has no friends?! When the Rainbow Fish takes some wise advise and learns to be generous with his beauty, he finds that the other fish’s attitude toward him changes as well.

The Rainbow Fish is an established classic  children’s picture book, although I have to admit that I didn’t read it until I was an adult. I’ve had numerous people tell me it was a favorite when they were growing up, however, and my little niece adores this book. Understandably so. The text is simple enough for young children to understand, yet it has a nice flow. And the message of the story is something everyone needs to be reminded of–although I think a discussion of not being friends with someone just to get stuff from them may be necessary in some cases. What seems to stand out in most people’s memory–and in most children’s reactions–however, is the lovely art. It really is attractive, and I love the cool-tone palette. And of course, the holographic foil is eye-catching. I would recommend The Rainbow Fish to anyone looking for an all-around good book for children ages 18 months to around 4-years-old.

 

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Shh! We Have a Plan

Author: Chris Haughtonshh-we-have-a-plan

My rating: 5 of 5

Four friends wander through the forest until they spot a brightly colored bird. One of them tries to make friends with the bird, but the others shush him. They have a plan. They’re going to catch this bird by force. Well . . . let’s just say that not all plans are created equal. But then, some people never learn. So, on to the next plan it is. Shh!

Shh! We Have a Plan is a fantastic little picture book by the creator of the beloved Little Owl Lost. The art features Haughton’s unique, bold, chunky style, utilizing a combination of monochromatic blues against some truly brilliant colors for the birds to draw the reader’s attention quite effectively. The tone that’s created is quite striking. Moreover, the messages of the story are valuable–such as the worth of offering true friendship and looking to the needs and desires of others instead of trying to force your own desires on them. The writing is maybe just a bit older in intended audience than Little Owl Lost; my niece appreciated Little Owl from about 1 year on, but didn’t really get into Shh! We Have a Plan until she was closer to 2 years old. At that point, however, she totally loved the repetitive but changing cycles of bird-catching . . . or not catching, rather . . . and joins in on every “Shh!” and “Go!” in the story. So I would say that for ages 2 and up, this is a highly recommended picture book.

 

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Robot Dreams

Author/Illustrator: Sara Varonrobot dreams

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Dog brings home a build-your-own-robot kit and finds his new best friend–Robot. The two do everything together: library trips, movies, the beach. Well, the beach was a bit of a mistake. Or rather, the water was a mistake for Robot. He rusts up so he can’t move! Dog doesn’t know what to do, so after trying everything, he quietly slinks away, feeling guilty for leaving his friend. Gradually, Dog tries to move past the guilt and loneliness by making new friends . . . with mixed results. Meanwhile, Robot lies abandoned on the shore, daydreaming about all sorts of might-have-been’s and could-be’s. But maybe there’s hope for both of them yet.

I really enjoyed this cute graphic novel, Robot Dreams. The art is simple but bold, not especially beautiful, but oddly attractive and expressive nonetheless. It works well for the story. And the story is unexpected, to be sure. At first, it’s all happy and sweet–the kind of story you give an upbeat soundtrack with birds singing in the background. Then everything gets all sad and poignant–somehow heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I love that the story resolution is at the same time unexpected (not at all the stereotypical happy ending I had figured would come) and cathartic; there’s a great message of healing and forgiveness there that I think is great for readers of all ages. And that’s something else that is great about this graphic novel–it really is appropriate and enjoyable for everyone from pretty young kids to adults.

 

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Little Owl’s Day

little owl's dayAuthor/Illustrator: Divya Srinivasan

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Little Owl loves flying around the forest during the night and sleeping during the day, but today’s a bit different. Somehow, Little Owl just can’t sleep even though the sun’s come up. Everything seems so different and exciting! There are all sorts of animals and things to see that Little Owl didn’t even know existed. Suddenly, the forest is like a new wonderful world to explore.

I loved Srinivasan’s first Little Owl picture book, Little Owl’s Night, and Little Owl’s Day is the perfect follow up. You get to see the daytime version of Little Owl’s forest, full of all sorts of diurnal creatures and other sights that can only be enjoyed in the sunshine, like rainbows and sun-loving flowers. There are fun tie-ins to the first book as well–like Little Owl’s finally getting to show Bear the moon. The art is superb–a really interesting style. I love that this book keeps the same general style and color themes while at the same time pulling in a much brighter palette to emphasize the difference between the day and night. The writing style is great for a preschool audience (my 1-1/2-year-old niece loves these books), while having a nice flow that’s enjoyable to read aloud–no annoying “see Spot run” sort of stuff. Definitely a recommended read for those with younger children.

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Little Owl Lost

little owl lostAuthor/Illustrator: Chris Haughton

My rating: 4 of 5

Poor Little Owl! He’s fallen out of his nest, and now he can’t find his Mommy anywhere. Fortunately, Squirrel’s around to help him look. But every time Little Owl describes his Mommy to Squirrel, Squirrel leads him to a different animal . . . that isn’t his Mommy. How sad! Finally, they meet Frog who knows just where Little Owl’s Mommy is, and the two are soon happily reunited.

Little Owl Lost is an adorable picture book for a younger preschool audience. It has that great blend of repetition and variety that seems to work so well with that age group. Plus it introduces a number of forest animals. And of course, there’s the great reassurance that when you’re lost your mother is looking just as hard for you as you are for her, cemented by the satisfying reunion in this story. I love the way this particular story loops back around at the end to Little Owl falling asleep and tipping, about to fall out of the nest again. As well as being a really cute story, Little Owl Lost has some very interesting art. The style is quite unique, but it works well and is fun to see. Likewise, the super-unusual color scheme is rather jolting at first, but it works. This is definitely a recommended read for younger children–a great read-aloud story.

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The Very Busy Spider

Author/Illustrator: Eric Carlethe very busy spider

My rating: 5 of 5

A spider is blown to a farmyard fence post, and she immediately sets to work. Throughout the day, all sorts of farm animals stop by to ask her to play, but the spider is intent on spinning her web. Finally, the web is finished, and her hard work is rewarded.

The Very Busy Spider is a very well-crafted picture book in classic Eric Carle style. The art work is, of course, both attractive and interesting, using all sorts of interesting colors and textures. Additionally (at least in the board book version), the spider, spiderweb, and fly are raised to create some interesting tactile interaction with the pages–which is great for younger kids! Also great for little ones, this book introduces a variety of barnyard animals as well as the noises they are typically said to make and some normal activities for them. On a slightly more advanced level, it also visibly shows how a spider’s web is crafted, demonstrating the weaving throughout the entire book. Finally, the story uses a repeating refrain throughout that ties everything together nicely, especially for little kids. I think that for a 1- to 4-year-old audience (although possibly older as well), The Very Busy Spider is an excellent picture book that is both entertaining and educational.

 

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You SeeAuthor: Bill Martin, Jr.

Illustrator: Eric Carle

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is an adorable picture book in which various animals are asked what they see and each replies, pointing to the next creature in line. Sounds kind of stupid, I know, and it’s certainly not “story” material by any means. But it’s cute, and it teaches both colors and animals in an interesting way. Definitely intended for a really young audience though, and not much redeeming value for adult readers. Except for maybe the illustrations; Eric Carle is wonderful. My one complaint (not sure if you’d really even call it that?) is that you’re going along through the animals quite nicely, then all of a sudden the teacher and the classroom are thrown in. It’s like, “where on earth did that come from? Couldn’t they find a grey elephant or a pink moose to finish?” It’s just a little jarring, that’s all. Still, overall I think Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a fun read-aloud book for smaller children.

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